Summer’s over

pattern recognition

Summer’s over: I just finished the last of my summer reading. (Not by choice, but since Labor Day marks the official end of the season, I’ll say I’m over.) The final book I read, the novel Pattern Recognition, was one of the more intriguing of the list. While I can’t recommend it to most readers, I think the description of it is fairly accurate, and may reveal why I found it intriguing.’s description:

The first of William Gibson’s usually futuristic novels to be set in the present, Pattern Recognition is a masterful snapshot of modern consumer culture and hipster esoterica. Set in London, Tokyo, and Moscow, Pattern Recognition takes the reader on a tour of a global village inhabited by power-hungry marketeers, industrial saboteurs, high-end hackers, Russian mob bosses, Internet fan-boys, techno archeologists, washed-out spies, cultural documentarians, and our heroine Cayce Pollard–a soothsaying “cool hunter” with an allergy to brand names.

Imagine being a marketing “cool hunter” (trendspotter) and having an allergy to brand names. That’s the kind of set-up I enjoy.

Other highlights from the summer reading list (you can click to them from my Recently read, 2003 list on the left column of any rexblog page).

Moneyball – Anything by Michael Lewis is worth reading, even if about two topics I have no interest in: baseball and baseball statistics.

Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson should win the history Pulitzer for this amazingly understandable and witty explanation of all things great and small. Think John McPhee meets Dave Barry.

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life – Walter Issacson will win the history Pulitzer for this fascinating look at the Founding magazine publisher.

Charlie Wilson’s War – Can three books win the history Pulitzer? This book reads like, but could never make it as a novel. The characters are too outrageous and the plot too unbelievable. What a yarn, though.

Life of Pi – Just got around to reading it and now understand why the people who recommended it to me kept doing so.

A few other books read and enjoyed, but not as much as those above: Under the Banner of Heaven, God’s Secretaries, Bankok 8.

And then there were a couple I won’t mention.

(Oh, yes. And I got to read and comment on the manuscript of a novel to be published next spring by the only friend I have whose had every novel she’s ever written make it to the NY Times bestsellers list. The new book is great and I’ll blog it next spring or whenever she tells me it’s okay to.)


Ploy-boy: The WP’s Peter Carlson profiles Playboy Magazine at 50 and, as part of the assignment, is apparently forced to attend a photo shoot and to hang out at the Playboy mansion. Oldest trick in the book? or, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. (Side note: Samir scores a quote in this article by suggesting that Hef hang up the old silk pajamas. Sorry, Mr. Magazine, you just blew your chances for the photo shoot/mansion trick.)



Ambi-torial: The NY Times’ David Carr must be back from vacation. He profiles what’s happening at GQ under its new editor in chief, Jim Nelson, who was wearing a Prada suit with a baseball jersey for the interview. (Such details must matter.)


GQ’s timelessness has been replaced by a sense of urgency and a much shorter attention span. New departments called Manual, the Verge and the Body are chock-a-block with music, products and trends that are all about this very second in time — a change both invigorating and jarring in a publication that until recently held the Rat Pack as central icons….Those who have seen the magazine, with its young, perfectly rumpled models, neon colors and ambi-sexual content, have noticed a resemblance to Details, a much smaller magazine with a circulation of 400,000.

After reading that, all I’ve got to say is, “Where the heck did David Carr go on vacation?”

Samir sighting

Samir sighting: Despite his expertise being the launch of magazines rather than the demise of them, Professor Husni (my hero) is the quoted expert once again in this article about Bridge Today. (It’s not for engineers, it’s for players of the card game.) “Bleeding subscribers,” (the reporter
s phrase, not mine), the magazine’s publisher has taken it online and no longer produces a print version. (Note: Therefore, it is no longer a magazine.) (Note 2: Samir says in the article there are 6,000 consumer magazines and 11,000 trade magazines. Remember, the other day David Pecker said there were 4,200 or 4,500 newsstand magazines (two stats in the same article). Recently, the Custom Publishing Council released a story that included the statistic of 50,000 custom magazines. Anyway you add it up, that makes for lots of magazines out there.)